SHOW REVIEW

Police songs raise bar for Sting performance...

All that is left for Sting is to reunite The Police. Performing at the Mohegan Sun arena on Monday night, Sting delivered a two-hour, 17-song set that occasionally bordered on boring, but often rattled with sheer musical joy. It was the songs from his days as front man for the Police that raised the bar.

While Sting has become an international superstar since disbanding one of the most influential bands of all time, no one was standing on their chair and screaming the lyrics of 'Fields of Gold'. Play a few bars of 'Roxanne', however, and bedlam ensues.

It could be argued that a Police reunion is the last thing left for the gasping-for-air genre of rock' n' roll.

The fact that these thoughts permeate the mind while Sting was working up his semi-spiritual, post-Police repertoire suggests that something was lacking in his performance.

Not the case. It wasn't what was missing, but rather what was in abundance: a collection of middle of the road, middle-aged, love songs all sung in Sting's sturdy alto.

Sting opened with 'Send Your Love', taking off a jacket he wore simply for the purpose of eliciting yelps from the crowd when he took it off. Those yelps turned to howls and screams at the opening bars of the Police hit 'Many Miles Away'.

The excitement level was turned up a notch when opener Annie Lennox joined Sting on stage for 'We'll Be Together', the veteran rock diva prowling the stage and bringing a lusty sensuality to the song.

The show hit a bump in the road with a sequence that included 'Seven Days', 'Dead Man's Rope' and 'This War', all of which suffered from heavy-handed, rhythmic intricacies and elaborate production.

Sting played acoustic guitar on 'Fragile', and seemed to land in an agreeable niche with 'Fields of Gold' and 'Englishman in New York'.

He worked a riff from 'King of Pain' into 'Roxanne', the undisputed highlight of the night, and closed with jazz-filled jam on 'Never Coming Home'.

Sting's first encore was a brilliant run through 'Desert Rose', 'If I Ever Lose My Faith In You' and 'Every Breath You Take'. He returned a second time for an anti-climactic take on 'A Thousand Years'.

Annie Lennox electrified the crowd with her opening set that included highlights like 'No More I Love You's', 'Pavement Cracks' and a reworked version of her Eurythmics hit 'Here Comes The Rain Again'.

The crowd roared during 'Missionary Man' and 'Sweet Dreams', and brought her back to encore with 'Why'.

Sting guitarist Dominic Miller also performed an opening set which included a duet with Sting on 'Shape of My Heart'.

(c) The Republican by Donnie Moorhouse



Sting brings love following a stunning Annie Lennox...

Sting certainly shared the love Monday when his 'Sacred Love' tour hit the Mohegan Sun Arena.

He began the night singing a duet with opening act Dominic Miller, who happens to play guitar in his band.

He then introduced co-headliner Annie Lennox, who put on a powerful one-hour performance. Oh yeah, then it was time for Sting to cap the evening with a one-hour, 40-minute set that was solid, yet not spectacular.

The problem for Sting may have been that he followed Lennox.

The former Eurythmics leading lady gave little room for anyone to top.

Her flawless set included most of her solo hits and a few chart toppers from her days with Dave Stewart as the Eurythmics.

Sting, likewise, had a set that featured mostly his solo work but he managed to pepper the night with a few Police numbers.

Lennox joined Sting on stage during his set for a duet of his single 'We'll Be Together'. Sting had another duet with one of his backup singers during 'Whenever I Say Your Name'. The singer was more than capable of stepping in for Mary J. Blige, who sang the duet part on Sting's 'Sacred Love' album.

Sting's set dragged during a few moments, most notably during the band's rendition of 'Roxanne'. The performance of the Police hit was strong, but Sting strung it out a few minutes too long.

Of course it was the Police numbers that the audience responded to most, especially a wonderfully juiced up version of 'Every Breath You Take' during the encore.

A few of Sting's solo numbers also carried the night. 'Desert Rose' and 'If I Ever Lose My Faith In You' were among the highlights and came during the encore.

Vocally, Sting sounded as good as ever. His voice has the right touch of raspiness and sensitivity that sets him apart.

When you're talking vocals, it would be difficult to beat out Lennox - at least on Monday. With many of her songs dealing with heartache and pain, Lennox's voice doesn't tug at your heartstrings as much as soothe your heart.

It's a unique ability to feel so much pain coming from a voice, yet sense hope and draw inspiration from that same voice. Lennox pulled it off amazingly.

Lennox actually sang just two singles from her latest CD, 'Bare'. Most of her numbers came from her first two solo albums and her hits with the Eurythmics. It included a beautiful rendition of 'Here Comes The Rain Again', where Lennox performed it while playing piano.

Lennox may be known for those dramatic ballads such as 'Why' and 'No More `I Love You's', she also proved she can pump up a crowd with 'Walking On Broken Glass' and two Eurythmic numbers, 'Missionary Man' and 'I Need A Man'.

Sans Dave Stewart for the better part of the past 16 years, Lennox obviously has proven she doesn't need a man. In fact, on this night, she proved better than the men who performed.

Miller did set an intimate tone for the evening with his opening 15-minute acoustic performance. The brief set included a beautifully arranged rendition of 'The Star-spangled Banner'. It ended with Sting coming on stage and singing 'Shape of My Heart'. Miller called Sting a surrogate brother and dedicated the song to him.

Annie Lennox's set list: 'Legend In My Living Room'; 'Little Bird'; 'No More I Love You's'; 'Pavement Cracks'; 'Loneliness'; 'Cold'; 'Here Comes The Rain Again'; 'Waiting In Vain'; 'Walking On Broken Glass'; 'Missionary Man'; 'I Need A Man'; 'Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This)'; 'Why'.

Sting's set list: 'Send Your Love'; 'Synchronicity II'; 'We'll Be Together'; 'Seven Days'; 'Dead Man's Rope'; 'This War'; 'Fragile'; 'Whenever I Say Your Name'; 'Sacred Love'; 'An Englishman In New York'; 'Roxanne'; 'Never Coming Home'; 'Desert Rose'; 'If I Ever Lose My Faith In You'; 'Every Breath You Take'; 'A Thousand Years'.

(c) The Norwich Bulletin by David Pencek



Annie Lennox outshines Sting...

OK. You're an international pop star who holds the world in the palm of your hand. Who do you pick to open your show? You need someone worthy of your company, but who won't out perform you. Well, Sting, next time don't pick Annie Lennox.

Oddly, Sting came out with his guitarist to sing a few songs before Lennox officially opened Monday's show at Mohegan Sun Arena. After Lennox arrived, sauntering across the stage like the queen of cats, it was clear she was more than the opening act. In her ripped jeans, sequined jacket and lace camisole, Lennox had the crowd on its feet several times. Somehow, she upstaged the man who could never be upstaged. How did she do it?

Lennox can sing. Her experience leading the rock duo the Eurythmics and her work as a solo artist has provided Lennox with a voice that is gritty, versatile, and soulful. From hits of her own, like 'Walking on Broken Glass', to a beautifully executed cover of Bob Marley's 'Waiting In Vain', this seasoned but youthful performer was full of energy and craft, generating low but excited conversation in the audience between sets.

Backed by a drummer, bassist, guitarist, two keyboard/synth players and a duo of backup singers, Lennox started most of her songs with ethereal intros, singing softly and beautifully until, as the bass drum kicked in with a driving beat, she would let loose the true strength of her voice. Greeting a standing ovation upon her re-appearance for the encore, Lennox tore into 'Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)', finishing her set exactly as everyone had hoped.

It's not that Sting is a bad singer or performer. Nor has the self-professed yogi of tantric sex practices and defender of the rainforests lost his charm. He wasn't tired and wizened - quite the contrary. Sting was, as always, happy, energetic, handsome and musically impressive. When Sting failed to successfully woo his audience was the point at which he decided to fill his set list with long instrumental jams and recent world music compositions that left true fans bored and distracted.

There were some high points. Sting's work on guitar during 'How Fragile We Are' was impressive. The few Police songs he performed, including 'Synchronicity' and a slow version of 'Roxanne', were well played - the jam session in the middle of 'Roxanne' was cleverly interwoven with Miles Davis's 'So What' and The Police's 'King Of Pain'.

While most of the videos playing behind the stage during his performance involved tasteless footage of half-naked women, Sting chose one montage of war and oil, with planes flying out towards the audience and dropping bombs while pumps worked away in the distance. As Sting sang, ''You may win this war, but can you tolerate the peace?'' the audience sat quietly, the footage and lyrics obviously striking a chord.

But Sting has become far too comfortable on stage. He needs to remember what the audience has come for, and then, like Lennox, he needs to provide it. Leave the jam sessions for rehearsals, Sting, and give your fans the clean, tight, well-written songs you are famous for.

(c) The Day by Ben Johnson



Sting, Annie Lennox On Tour De Force...

Sting and Annie Lennox have taken different career paths since both came to prominence as the faces of popular acts in the early 1980s, but neither has ever really gone out of style.

The two are spending the summer together on a tour that visited the Mohegan Sun Arena Monday night, and each gave a worthy and vibrant performance that succeeded on its own distinctive merits.

Headliner Sting was the first of the two to appear when he helped close out the warm-up set of his band guitarist Dominic Miller, nonchalantly supplying warm vocals for Miller's smoothly picked rendition of 'Shape of My Heart'.

Lennox has been far less prolific in the recording studio than Sting but had plenty of material to fill a very strong hour. The several tunes she pulled from her 1992 solo debut all retained their appeal when married anew to the piercing strength of her voice, including the synth-thickened soulfulness of her opener, 'Legend in My Living Room'.

Her performance amid the choppy pulse of 'Little Bird' exuded the raw, intimate energy that typically only translates in smaller venues, and her vocal caress of the swelled ballad 'No More 'I Love You's' dripped with emotive power.

Lennox busily touched on all periods of her career, back to her time as singer for Eurythmics, which made for such sweetness as her solo turn on piano for a slowed-down 'Here Comes the Rain Again'. But attention to the past kept her from offering much of her current material. It was a trifle disappointing that she had no room for the haunting 'Into the West', which recently won her the Academy Award for best song (beating out Sting, among others), and that she only offered two songs from her strong 2003 disc. That said, as powerful as the dramatic new number Loneliness was, the impressive jagged edge on the well-worn 1983 hit 'Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)' and the impassioned elegance of her lightly adorned ballad Why made it difficult to fault her choices.

Sting's program was a somewhat reworked (and shorter by three songs) version of his performance at Oakdale on St. Patrick's Day, including early turns on the chugging dance groove 'Send Your Love' and a percussive run through the Police tune 'Synchronicity II'. Among the best of his new offerings were an extended roll through 'We'll Be Together', which featured the returned Lennox as a formidable spark plug, and a pleasantly jaunty foray into the tricky 'Seven Days'.

The cockiness that limits Sting's stage persona was generally appealing, coming off as easy assuredness in the breathy 'Dead Man's Rope', but it was less engaging when wrapped around the aggressive preachiness of the howling 'This War'. The range of his chops became clear over the long haul, as he loosened up his bass playing a bit during a rousing jam in his closer, 'Never Coming Home', and added character to the nodding encore tune 'If I Ever Lose My Faith in You' with a throaty yelp. He even reminded the audience that he has gravitated toward easy listening music in recent years when he came back for a second encore of 'A Thousand Years', lightly negotiating its thick, breezy course.

(c) The Hartford Courant by Thomas Kintner

(0) Reviews and Comments